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Raging Bull Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly

    Another harsh character study, with poignant echoes of "Taxi Driver."

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  • 100

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    Takes a cold, unflinching look at the violence both inside and outside of the ring.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    The most painful and heartrending portrait of jealousy in the cinema--an "Othello'' for our times.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    Los Angeles Times Sheila Benson

    One of the bloodiest and most beautiful reflections on atonement in the Scorsese canon... It is still one of cinema's most breathtaking films.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Gene Siskel

    Filmed in black-and-white and shockingly well acted by De Niro, Raging Bull suggests that if you are looking for the source of evil in the world, you don't have to look any further than yourself. It's inside you or it isn't. And it comes out or it doesn't. [19 Dec 1980]

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 17+

Boxing movie masterpiece still brutal, bloody.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this 1980 biopic about boxing champion Jake LaMotta is one of the most highly acclaimed American movies ever made. It's supremely brutal, with punishing boxing sequences as well as shocking violence set outside the ring (Jake beats up his wives and his brother). Language is very strong, including "f--k," "s--t," "c--t," and "c--k," and there is at least one scene with strong sexual suggestion. Some characters drink and smoke, but in a background way, and there's an ad for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer on television. Teens interested in cinema history will eventually discover this one, but don't let the old-fashioned black-and-white cinematography fool you: this one is for older teens and grownups only.

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. How is the violence in the ring different from the violence outside the ring? How did the filmmakers highlight the violence in this movie?
  • Is Jake a bully? Is he a role model? Is this still a good movie even if the subject isn't a good guy?
  • What has made this movie stand the test of time?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: The main character more or less gets his comeuppance for his bad behavior, though he may or may not realize it himself. Minor characters come out sadder, but wiser. No characters really change in a positive way.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: Jake behaves like a brute throughout, acting on baser instincts (violence, jealousy, etc.) without ever really learning a lesson. He does fall from grace, but it's not clear whether he truly understands this fall, or believes he deserves it. The minor characters are not much better, either enabling Jake, or running away from him.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: This movie contains some of the most punishing, bloody boxing ring footage ever filmed, complete with spraying bodily fluids. Jake also threatens, slaps, and punches his first and second wives and beats up his brother. In another scene, Jake punishes himself by punching and banging his head against a brick wall. We also see a ringside riot after a fight, in which people are trampled.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Jake's wife Vicki is around 14 when they meet, and definitely a teen when she marries him. Jake flirts with her somewhat inappropriately, and they kiss. In one scene (while married), they make out and remove pants and underwear. No nudity is shown. Jake pours ice water down his pants to stop the sexual encounter. Viewers see a wet spot on the front of Vicki's nightgown. Later in the story, Jake kisses two girls in his nightclub, while still married. Otherwise, there is various sexual innuendo.

  • language false5

    Language: Very strong language here, with frequent use of "f--k." We also hear "s--t," "c--t," "c--k," "balls," "motherf--ker," "son of a bitch," "faggot," "fags," "ass," "a--hole," "Christ," "d--k," and "piss." 

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: During a fight on television, we see a promo spot for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, twice. In the final scene, we see a Kleenex box. 

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Adults drink socially in several scenes, though no one appears to be drunk. Jake drinks a beer at home in one scene. Jake smokes a cigar in the later years, and a minor character smokes a cigarette.